Bail process in Los Angeles
There are a couple of factors that determine the speed of the bail process in Los Angeles County. The most important is the crime involved. With a misdemeanor, the amount of bail can be determined very quickly by referring to a county bail schedule. While the schedule includes information about felonies, they are decided on a case-by-case basis, requiring a bond hearing and making at least an overnight stay very likely. The other factor is whether the defendant is in one of the two men’s jails or the CRDF/Lynwood County Jail – the main holding jail for women. If you are trying to help a friend or loved one, it’s best to try to secure bail while they are still at a jail that’s part of a local Police Department complex.
Types of jail release in Los Angeles
- Own recognizance. California law allows for a defendant to be released without paying any money in limited situations. Generally, defendants must have little or no criminal history and cannot be accused of crimes of violence or crimes involving minors. Involving a criminal defense attorney at this point can be beneficial from the standpoint of arguing for an OR release or, on the other hand, for a request for a reduction in bail.
- Cash bond. This is the simplest and quickest way to be released from jail, as long as the defendant has the money to pay the entire amount of the bail. The court will accept a payment from a co-signer as well, and most of the money will be returned as long as the defendant meets all jail release conditions.
- Surety bond. Many defendants choose a surety bond because they cannot afford bail or want to conserve their money to pay for costs associated with their release and the hiring of an attorney. California law allows bail bond companies to charge no more than 10 percent of the total amount of the bail. In certain situations, it’s possible to get a discount to 8 percent. This premium to the bail bond agent is nonrefundable.
- Property bond. A property bond is both a complex and risky jail release option. The property used to secure the property bond is transferred to the court if the defendant does not fulfill all bail obligations. There is a significant amount of paperwork required – from a current appraisal to documents establish ownership and sufficient equity.
How bail is set
The Los Angeles County bail schedule greatly speeds up most misdemeanor cases because the amount of the bail can be determined immediately. The schedule covers felonies as well; however, it is common for judges to study the case and consider deviating from the schedule based on the specific facts of the crime involved and the criminal history of the defendant. Los Angeles law also calls for enhancements to more serious crimes. For example, $40,000 is added to the bail of any crime committed for the benefit of a street gang, while $30,000 is added to the bail of crimes where “great bodily injury” occurred.
Bond costs and options
Defendants should expect to pay a 10 percent premium to a bail bond agent. Under state law, that’s the most that bail bond companies can charge. Ask if your situation qualifies for a cheaper rate. Some companies charge 8 percent for military veterans or defendants with lawyers or in other specific circumstances.